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Season 2013/14

Nasri makes France comeback in Belgium draw

  • 14 August 2013 22:08
  • Posted by @markbooth_mcfc

Samir Nasri returned to the international stage after a 14 month exile in France’s goalless draw with Vincent Kompany’s Belgium at Stade Roi Baudouin in Brussels.

City’s French playmaker was introduced in the 62nd minute of a tight, physical encounter in which Gael Clichy and Kompany completed the 90 minutes on either side.

Much of the talk in the French media building up to kick-off in this showpiece friendly was whether Nasri would be brought in from the cold after a year-long exodus.

The 26-year old has not played a game at international level on disciplinary grounds after an incident which followed France’s Euro 2012 exit to eventual winners Spain.

Samir apologised for his part in the fall-out and was rewarded with a place back in the squad, although he had to be patient for his first minutes back in international colours.

Meanwhile, Clichy has often played second fiddle to his Manchester United counterpart Patrice Evra in recent times but he was given an opportunity to stake his claim for a regular place by Les Bleus boss Didier Deschamps with a start.

"Kompany’s place in the Belgium back four is beyond reproach and he unsurprisingly captained his side, starting alongside ex-City defender Daniel van Buyten."

...Belgium v France...

Marc Wilmots’ men are three points clear of Group A of World Cup qualifying with three games to play, meaning it’s looking increasingly likely that Belgium’s so-called “golden generation” will be featuring in Brazil.

On the night, France made a strong start to the game, pinning the opposition back into their own defensive third but Belgium came closest to opening the scoring with a rapid five on two counter-attack.

Eden Hazard looked like he was about to break through on goal until a wonderful interception from Clichy halted the Chelsea man’s progress.

From there, the game had the appearance of a basketball match with both teams entertainingly taking turns at attacking the other but the defences were holding firm and the final ball was lacking for much of the opening half.

The opening period’s best chance fell to Kevin de Bruyne after 37 minutes but the Belgian forward fired wide with just Hugo Lloris to beat from inside the six-yard box.

Despite letting this golden opportunity go begging, the hosts almost took the lead again in the opening minutes of the second half when first, Barcary Sagna, and then Eric Abidal, gave Hugo Lloris poor backpasses which Romelu Lukaku almost pounced upon on two occasions.

The Spurs keeper did well to keep out the Chelsea striker for a third time in the 56th minute when he tipped a goalbound effort onto the post.

Deschamps sensed that the home side were in the ascendancy and so brought Nasri on along with Franck Ribery with half an hour to play.

"Nasri hardly had the red carpet rolled out for him on his France comeback as he was immediately poleaxed by Pocognoli with a tackle that earned the defender a yellow card."

...Belgium v France...

Happily, there were no lasting effects from the tackle and Samir found his feet as his team tried to bring an end to a run of six hours without an international goal.

In truth, the flurry of substitutions in the second half took some of the intensity out of the game but Nasri almost created an opportunity to break this deadest of deadlocks but Olivier Giroud couldn’t quite turn his ball in under the crossbar with five minutes to go.

A night for the goalkeepers, then, but a good run-out for Vincent, Gael and Samir before the World Cup qualifiers resume in September.

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